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JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA – The Riverside Generals kept their program in familiar hands with the promotion of former offensive coordinator and school alumnus Antwan Nicholas to head football coach.

“I’m very excited for the opportunity as well as the culture. Like the environment with the kids is definitely great for them buying into the team concept,” Nicholas told in May.

Nicholas assumed the role of offensive coordinator for the Riverside program in 2015, and over the last seven seasons, the Generals posted a 61-19 record. Last year, Riverside averaged 31.3 points per game on offense and made it to the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Class 6A Regional Semifinal game.

“Biggest thing now, they’re focused on the team moving forward, the environment, building relationships, as well as supporting each other,” Nicholas said. “And that’s something you definitely need on a championship team for making that run and making that push.”

With Nicholas as offensive coordinator, the Generals averaged over 30 points per game four times over the last six seasons, including an impressive 39.8 points per game in 2016. That year, Nicholas’ second running the offense, the Generals progressed to the FHSAA Class 7A state Final Four, losing a tightly contested game in the state semifinal.

Nicholas fills the void left by former head coach O.J. Small, who stepped down this winter following 11 seasons with the Generals. At the time of his resignation, Small was the second-longest tenured head football coach in the Gateway Conference. He helped revitalize the program and led the Generals to seven straight playoff appearances. Small registered a 79-39 record while with the Riverside and Lee, and didn’t have a losing season after 2013.

Riverside remains one of the most consistent and successful programs in the Northeast Florida area. The Generals saw one of their alumni, LeRoy Butler, inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of its 2022 class.

Five other program alumni have made it to the NFL, doing so when the school was still known as Robert E. Lee High. Among those are Edgar Bennett and Coach Nicholas’ brother, Stephen Nicholas, who played for the Atlanta Falcons from 2007 to 2013.

Nicholas also played for the program during his high school days, something that strengthens the bond with his current players and the school community.

“You do this not necessarily for the money, but you definitely want to invest in the kids,” said Nicholas. “The kids are buying into it, as well as parents, faculty. The support around here, just the environment and culture is just to enrich souls to grow and continue to grow and play.”

Following his successful high school career, Nicholas played collegiately at Edward Waters University, earning NAIA All-American honors twice. He spent time as defensive coordinator at Edward Waters and at Benedict College prior to coaching at Riverside.

The school finds itself changing categories within the FHSAA for 2022 and 2023, all part of the Association’s shift to the new Metro/Suburban setup.

Originally slated for play in a very competitive District 1-2M with Jackson, Raines, and Ribault, Riverside moved to District 3-2M (Metro) instead. They’ll square off against Westside and Edward White High, teams the Generals have dominated in recent years.

Nicholas hopes to continue Riverside’s run of seven consecutive playoff appearances, second in the area only to Raines, which has made 12 straight postseason runs.